Friday, May 31, 2013

Four Lessons: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

30 days.  30 minutes.  Every day.  Did you do it?

Well, I managed 20 days out of 30 of dedicated nature time.  The days I connected, regardless of the weather, were more productive and higher energy days.  When I did not get out in nature for more than one day at a time, I felt a decline in my energy, which resulted in procrastinating or self limiting thoughts.  Thankfully, I'm aware of my human-ness and knew what I had to do.

I started combining my nature time with other commitments and values.  So, I went outside to play with my youngest daughter instead of playing inside, walked a trail with a friend instead of having coffee at a coffee shop, took a walk instead of going for a drive to soothe the baby, or sat on a bench to read instead of in a comfy reading chair at home.  And I got it done!  But it was not only 'done'...

In the beginning of this challenge, I wanted to spend 30 minutes every day connecting to nature without other distractions.  This just wasn't happening at this time of my life.  So... I had to let go of that commitment I made and be OK with letting it go.  Surrendering... hard to do, hey?  But I did.  And as a result, I was able to replace that heavy feeling of guilt (from not following through on my original intent) with a feeling of gratefulness that I CAN spend time with my family and friends in nature and I'm actually connecting with people while IN nature.

It takes 21-days of commitment to something to make a habit change.  I took on a clean eating lifestyle change at the same time I took on the 30x30 challenge.  I was very successful in my clean eating habit changes and moderately successful in my nature challenge.  Why?  Sometimes we make our goals too big or take on too many things at once.  The lesson I keep getting in my life is push yourself just the right amount outside your comfort zone.  If it's too much, you won't do it .  If it's too little, you won't grow.  Was the nature challenge too much outside my comfort zone?  No way!  But taking on two habit changes at the same time while also being the most busy I've been in my business since its inception last Fall and taking on two other online courses... yeah, that was just a little too much.  And... when you have choose, you'll do what you've MADE most important (whether it really is most important or not).  For me, eating clean meant less inflammation in my body, which meant less pain.  I made that commitment stronger.

So, here are four tips for making change in your life:

First, get clear on what is most important and why.  In the case of this nature challenge, I'm perfectly clear that nature is incredibly important to me and the challenge has made this even more clear.  The REASON for that is because it makes me mentally and physically healthy and strong.  Why is that important?  Because I want to be around to enjoy life and my loved ones for a long time... being ACTIVE - and I need physical and mental strength to do the things I want to do.

Second, determine if the challenge or habit change fits into your life at that time.  It has to fit into your schedule... be part of your life like brushing your teeth.  If you can't fit it in, determine if you can let other things go.  Do you value everything that is on your schedule now?  Do you REALLY value what you want to take on?  Do you REALLY want to change?  Hindsight being 20x20, I know I could have made changes to my schedule and I could have gotten out there those 10 days that I did not.  However, something stood in my way.  Some days it was laziness.  Some days it was procrastination.  Some days it was simply because I had too much to do and didn't put emphasis on getting outside to connect.  Knowing these things brings me to the next tip.

Third, tweak.  I am not giving up.  This really is important to me.  I value it.  It makes me perform at a higher level.  It makes me feel good.  I want this in my daily life - no matter what.  So, I'll tweak.  I'll find something in my current schedule that can go (no, not blogging!)... possibly my morning Facebook time... yes, that could go.  And I'll be more aware of when I AM lazy or procrastinating and I'll just continue to do better.  Continuous improvement is the key to long-term success.

Fourth, get an accountability partner.  My husband was mine, BUT it was not a formalized arrangement.  He encouraged and supported me without me giving permission for him to do so.  You need to have a clear and formal understanding with your accountability partner that when you are not doing what you said you'd do, they need to know and have your permission to use three motivational methods (things that motivate YOU) that will help you follow through.

The best thing that came out of my experience is this:  I enjoyed nature 20 times over the past 30 days.  Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.  Getting out into the trees helps you see the forest.  I'm celebrating!

Pomroy Consulting Inc. helps leaders and managers of organizations, communities, and groups lead change, have meaningful relationships with stakeholders, and intentionally create cultures using mindfulness and best business practices.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Get Back Up: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

OK, so it's Day 22 of the 30x30 David Suzuki Nature Challenge and I was already knocked down once, got back up, and here I am again!  I haven't spent my 30 minutes in nature for the last three days!  I have excuses that I won't share because it doesn't matter.  I committed and I've fallen.  Again.

A Japanese proverb states: "Fall down seven times, get up eight."  This simply means, keep trying.

So I'm getting back up again.  I'm keeping on trying.  I'm committed.  

Have you fallen down on something at work lately?  How can you get back up?  That's how you will be a successful and powerful leader or manager.  Get back up.  And keep getting back up.

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Lessons from the Kids: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

I spent the last week visiting my nieces and nephew (and brother and sister-in-law) in Manitoba.  Combine three kids under five with my 30x30 nature challenge, and I got some lessons to share:)

Lesson #1 - Play to Perform

We spent time jumping on the trampoline, playing in playgrounds, digging in dirt, and doing photo shoots in the trees.  The kids can pretty much create any story while playing and find solutions to any challenge they face.  Imagine having some play time at the office or work site?  Science tells us that play is as important as sleep for our health - it stimulates learning, fosters creativity, lessens stress and anxiety, teaches perseverance and cooperation, and... makes us happy!  The next time you are faced with a work challenge or need to be creative, go climb a tree or play a game on a trampoline.

Lesson #2 - Give Some One-on-one

Each day throughout the week, I gave one of the three kids individual attention - while trying to combine it with my nature time.  It was virtually impossible to really get to know each child when you are simultaneously settling a crying infant, managing a climbing toddler, and attempting to entertain a brilliant four year old.  Spending alone time with each of them helped me know their little personalities and the best way to interact with them to maximize our short time together.  This is not different from adults.  If you manage or lead people, give them some one-on-one time.  Get to know them.  When you know who they are, what they are good at, and what they enjoy, you can manage performance, reward, and connect with them much more effectively.  How about getting your nature and one-on-one time by going for a walk with a different team member each day?

Lesson #3 - Let Silence do the Talking

My oldest daughter came to Manitoba with me and we managed to get time hanging out in nature.  While silently sitting on a bench in a breezy park overlooking a lake, my daughter started talking about her future.  The wind, the chirping birds, and the silence gave her the head space she needed to start creating her vision.  Our brains are busy and often overloaded with information and to-do lists.  We are most productive when our brains are clear.  Give yourself at least 10 minutes of silence every day.  Let your thoughts pass through your  mind without diving into them, rather label a thought as a thought and move on from it.  Even better - do this in nature.  You will be thankful for the greater ability to focus, get clear on the bigger picture, respond to challenges easier, and create your own future.

None of these concepts are new.  But do you play every day?  Do you give your team members one-on-one time regularly?  Do you make it a daily practice to silent your mind?  If so, congratulations!  If not, start creating these habits for higher performance in work and life!

Kids are the greatest teachers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Get Knocked Down: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

It's Day 13.  This is more than a challenge of being in nature.  This is a performance challenge.  This is a leadership challenge.  This is a challenge of integrity.

So on Days 10, 11, and 12 I was completely swamped.  Family from away were visiting.  I spent a full day traveling across the country.  And I was putting the finishing touches on a few deadlines.  Today, I got my 30 minutes of nature in... at a park surrounded by trees with the sun shining and smiling faces of my niece and nephew playing.  I missed my nature!!!

And this is the lesson.  You fall down.  And you get up.  Don't make excuses.  Just do what you have to do and get on with it.

Where have you fallen?  Did you get back up?  That's the important part... getting back up.  We all get knocked down.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reflect: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

It's Day 7 of David Suzuki's 30x30 Nature Challenge!  Someone asked me if this challenge has had an impact on me.  The answer: Yes.  I'm feeling more balanced, more creative, more driven, and the brain breaks have helped me be more productive.

I've had to squeeze my connection to nature in for the past two days.  Looking at my schedule over the next few days, though, my solo challenge may have to change to family time.

On Monday I went to a bench near a pond surrounded by trees.  Birds were squawking, ducks were landing in the water, and my head was swarmed by mosquitoes!  Yes... it's finally Spring here!  It's blissful.  Most of my time on Monday was spent in self-reflection.

I've been working on my goals and vision and had to ask friends and colleagues questions about me.  Honest answers really made me think.  Thirty minutes of self-reflection after hearing how you inspire and also challenge people is a good exercise - for everyone, especially leaders and managers.  I feel better equipped to become a better leader myself and also to help you become a better leader in your work and life.

Being incredibly busy on Tuesday, I had to find something to motivate me to get outside throughout the work day.  The sun did it.  I literally squeezed a 25 minute connection to nature in between two appointments.  I sat near a babbling brook and felt the heat of the sun on my face.  Along the trail, I had a serendipitous meeting with a fellow coach from DMW Coaching and had a great chat which left me feeling settled.  Good things happen when you create openings for opportunities.

My challenge for you today is to go out in nature and reflect on your strengths and areas you need to work on in order to reach your vision.  If you don't have a vision.... start working on it.  You can't reach it without knowing what it is.  And like Suzanne Conrad from igolu says, if you don't know your own vision, you are living someone else's.

Thank-you for being my accountability partner(s) in this challenge.  If you need one, drop me a line or post on my Facebook page about how you are doing with your challenge and if it's making a difference in your performance.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Going Off The Trail: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

It's Day 5 of the 30x30 David Suzuki Nature Challenge.  I'm sharing my journey of the challenge with you and aligning it with having a higher performance at work and in life.  I'm an outdoorsy person, so my challenge is to intentionally get more out of being 'out there'.

This past weekend we had SUN!  For those readers who do not know Newfoundland weather... sun is a rarity for us, and when we get it, we take advantage!  So going outside wasn't hard.  But getting my intentional connection to nature was just a little more difficult.

My weekends are sacred.  I spend time with my family, and this is very important to me.  However, my husband and I have an arrangement - we each get a weekend morning to spend doing whatever we want (child responsibilities go to the other person).  This past weekend, my morning was Sunday.  Before I get to that, let's go to Saturday.

Saturday morning my wee one had gym class bright and early.  After class, we went to a pond with a lovely trail around it.  I let her lead.  Instead of spending my nature time alone in silence, I watched her lead the way in nature.  She squealed in delight when she managed to get down a little step without holding my hand.  She went OFF THE TRAIL... and her curiosity resulted in us finding a grassy area next to the pond that is excellent for yoga or a picnic!  I've been running around this pond for years and have never found this spot.  Going off the trail was so much more exciting.... she already knew how to walk along the trail.  But finding pine cones to tear apart (and taste) and lumpy, bumpy, grassy spots to maneuver through was much more exciting.

Being curious is a wonderful thing.  On the one hand, like my babe, you find and learn new things by questioning and attempting and taking risks.  However, I was curious by observing.  My toddler and I didn't get very far in distance, but I believe I observed more in that 45 minutes than any other time I've been around that pond.

Be curious at work.  Seek out better or different ways to do things... even if you believe you are doing them well.   Let someone else lead the way and you watch.  It is amazing what you might learn - both about the task and the person.  And your performance will likely rise as a result.

Needless to say, my Saturday was amazing and productive after starting it in nature!

Sunday was another story.  I was up very late talking with my mom Saturday night, and then my toddler was awake for an hour throughout the night... Sunday being 'my morning', I slept it away!  What happened then?  I had a slow, lazy afternoon and didn't get what I planned to do done.  I DID get to my hula hooping class with FarOut Fitness and that WAS outside.  So I guess you could say that I did meet the requirements for the nature challenge:)

Here's to getting off the trail!

Friday, May 3, 2013

These Shoes Were (NOT) Made for Walkin': 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

Day 2.  I was up late last night putting final details on a facilitation I was delivering this morning.  I didn't really plan my 30 minutes of nature into my day since I was focused on the morning session and then getting other work goals met this afternoon.  It's definitely not an established habit yet.

After my morning session and grabbing a bite to eat (trying to do 'clean eating' - another challenge) I hopped in my car to go to a coffee shop and write.  Then I realized I would not be able to get my 30 minutes of nature in without my toddler if I didn't do it before the end of my work day.... but I have a work suit and dress shoes on!

I sat in my car wondering what to do... go home and change my clothes?  But I have another meeting later.  Get my sneakers?  But time is of the essence.... so I decided to get with nature with my dress shoes and work suit. I quickly concluded that my goal here is a daily dose of connection - and I can do that no matter what type of clothes I'm wearing.

I found one of my favorite trails in the middle of the city.  It has a resting place along the way next to a babbling brook.  You feel 100 miles away from the city - but you're right in the middle of it.  It's one of the beautiful things about living in my city.  I was happy the resting spot wasn't too far along the trail because I quickly realized these shoes were NOT made for walking!

I was forced to walk a little slower and for a shorter distance.  In order to fulfill my 30 minute commitment, I would have to just sit at the resting place.  And I did.

While I sat, my mind whirled.  I can't help it.  I really did chant for a few minutes and just listened to the babbling brook and chirping birds.  That made ideas come even faster.  So I allowed them to come and I allowed them to leave.  A few stuck.

  1. A challenge is something that challenges YOU.  I get out in nature.  I love it and consider myself an outdoorsy person.  So this 30x30 challenge is not just about enjoying nature for me.  It's getting a dose of it every single day - no matter what (dress shoes or not).  John Maxwell practices the "Rule of 5" - five activities you do every single day that are fundamental to your success.  I believe connecting with nature is one of my "Rule of 5".
  2. Exercise is important.  Connecting is different.  I need to do both.  Separately.  (I did squeeze my butt cheeks while walking nevertheless:)  I will combine the two at times.  But there is value in doing each alone.
  3. I need this for me.  I can bring my toddler out with me and have a nature walk or go for a hike with my teen or hubby.  But my challenge and my need is to connect.  Alone.  It improves my ability to serve others in work and life.
  4. Leaders need this.  The best leaders lead themselves first.  How can you lead yourself without calming the mind and finding that powerful place from which you lead?  Lead self.  Lead others. Create leaders.  That's what a leader does.

I also became a little more clear on my own business vision.  That alone was an amazing thing for me at this juncture in my business (less than a year old).

Your challenge?  Go visit nature and if you're boots/shoes are not made for walkin', just sit... or change your shoes.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Be a Tree: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

Last night I went to a drumming and crystal bowl session for May Day (organized by Regina Wright and Katie Power from Alive Adventures and Discovery).  I arrived excited and I left with my mind buzzing.  It was truly magical.  When I arrived home, my husband wished he came with me - he was bogged down with work and felt wound up.... bogged down and wound up.  Not a great place to be when you have a lot to do and it seems you don't have enough hours in the day to do it.

Well, there is another kind of bogged down that could help with that feeling.  It's the real bog.  Natural bog.  Nature.

Yesterday, I committed to taking on David Suzuki's 30x30 Challenge - 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days.  I said I'd share my journey with you.  So here I am.  Sharing.

My morning started late.  My toddler woke an hour later than usual and was up through the night.  As a result, if all went well, I would sit at my desk an hour late.  It was rainy.  And cold.  I have three deadlines over the next week and I've taken on so many things for the month of May that I don't know how I'm going to get it all done.

But I committed.

So I decided to take on an easy nature walk for 30 minutes to start my day - otherwise, I probably wouldn't get my 30 minutes of nature in!  Then I'd be out of integrity, guilt would seep in, I'd be less productive..... and on and on.

I started my walk excited!  I was out in the rain.  It was cold.  I was pumped.  I felt fantastic that I was doing what I said I'd do AND who else was out there??  I passed two people, a dog, numerous ducks, two crows, and a squirrel.  They all seemed perfectly at peace with the weather.

As I walked quickly (may as well get my heart rate up!), I decided to squeeze my butt cheeks.  Yes!  Another challenge from my fitness group (Far Out Fitness) getting done!  Accomplishing two things at once!  My mind raced with ideas for my business.  I was loving the rain on my face.  Life was good.

I was almost back to where I started and realized only 17 minutes passed!  Eeep!  So I slowed down.  And that's when it hit me.

The trees were drinking it in.... just being.  They grow strong and can weather any storm.  And all they do is 'be'.

I walked slowly... sauntered down a path to a bench near a pond and simply watched the rain land in the water.  I spent my remaining time just being.  My mind cleared.

I started my 30 minutes in nature excited and enthusiastic.  I created tons of ideas.  But how can I perform when I'm in that state?  You need the excitement and high energy to create and even execute at times.  But you need the calm and peace in order to execute with intention... to be aligned with your vision... to know what is a priority and what you can delegate or let go of.  I finished my 30 minutes in nature at peace and REALLY ready to take on the day (and wet from the rain:).

Today, I challenge you to BE A TREE in order to have a higher performance at work.  Get out there in nature and get to a tree-like state.  Then go back to work and perform with intention, passion, and clarity.  (Let me know how it goes!)